We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE
Nietzsche: The Body and Culture. Philosophy as a Philological Genealogy (review)
In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

428Philosophy and Literature desire to make language one with reality led him to pursue "realism's mystical verbal essence" (p. 226). Stevens made a virtual religion out of imagining an ultimate idea that resembles Santayana's "realm of essence" (p. 260) while Williams hoped in his autobiography that poetry might overhear "that essence which is hidden in the very words which are going in at our ears" (p. 294). Martin is especially perceptive about how the epistemology of these writers shaped their aesthetic practice. Stein's poststructuralist poetics, Hemingway's and Pound's disciplined objectivity, Aiken's evanescence and Stevens's abstraction , Williams's variety and particularity, and Dos Passos's montage of images and voices audaciously attempted to express the shifting, highly individualistic world of twentieth-century reality. To know meant, in the end, to make a new order of the world of words. Precisely because Martin understands how a way of knowing becomes a way of writing, he has written not a work of "philosophy and literature" but of philosophy as literature. Kent State UniversityGary M. Ciuba Nietzsche: The Body and Culture. Philosophy as a Phihfogical Genealogy, by Eric Blondel; translated by Sean Hand; 353 pp. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1991, $39.50 cloth, $14.95 paper. This important study of Nietzsche takes its place beside the interpretations of Heidegger, Jaspers, and Fink, which are said by Blondel to have rescued Nietzsche "from a marginal position by relying on a rational philosophical discourse," but at the cost of effacing "the uniqueness of Nietzsche's text" (p. 5). To really confront what Nietzsche has to say, Blondel suggests, we must open ourselves towhateludes and lies beyond rationalistic discourse. The word "body" points towards that beyond, as does "physiology," but Nietzsche gives us a better hint when in Beyond Good and Evil he speaks of the need to recognize once again "the basic text of homo natura" (BGE, par. 230). Such formulations leave behind the usual distinction between body and thought, as they leave behind biology and philosophy. Nietzsche attempts to think the body as interpreting thought and tries "to articulate the body's saying (dire) as the conditions of possibility for culture in general" (p. 36). Such an attempt has to lead beyond metaphysics, "a systematic discourse of propositions bound to univocity leading to the negation of life" (p. 76). To open his texts to the body Nietzsche relies Reviews429 on metaphor and genealogy. Blondel thus concludes his book with a challenging discussion ofNietzsche's understanding ofphilosophy as "the genealogical analysis of culture" (p. 238). This turn from metaphysics to genealogy is shown to be part of an effort to "call discourse back to its extradiscursive origins, but at the same time to say, in the text, through language, what all language, as metaphysics, mutilates" (p. 77). "It is here that philology comes within a hair's breadth of physiology and dispossesses itself of its prerogatives: the critique of language makes way for the deciphering of a relationship to the body" (p. f53). Blondel's emphasis on the body is especially welcome, given the pervasive influence of interpretations that, "under the pretext of 'textuality,' " "disemboweled " Nietzsche, deprived him ofsubstance, and turned him "into a bloodless example of how the text and meaning were to be emptied or evaded" (p. 9). As Blondel shows, "Nietzsche never stopped bringing his questions to bear on a reality outside the text, outside discourse, on a given 'world' that is as much the reality of drives serving as a background to genealogy as a network of ideological relationships operating between idols" (p. 53). "Reducing Nietzsche's thought to that of the play of signifiers, means forgetting that genealogy insistently reminds us of the bodily and vital ground from which all discourse speaks" (p. 53). If discourse speaks from the ground of the body's saying, it is incapable of speaking adequately o/that ground. If "the truth of language is perhaps the body" (p. 203), this is a truth that can be gestured towards only with inevitably unstable, unreliable metaphors. Nietzsche's discourse thus skirts the edge of silence. But Blondel takes philosophy too seriously, the body not seriously enough, when he suggests that...